82 Peaks, 80 Days: Two Italians Climb All the 4,000’ers in the Alps

Alpine style
Castagna on the Crest di Peuterey.

On May 4, 2021, 26-year-old Nicola Castagna and 37-year-old Gabriel Perenzoni set off to climb every 4,000m peak in the Alps — all 82 of them. The journey, dubbed AltaVia 4000, came to a successful close on July 22, just 80 days later.

The two Italians’ adventure began with the Gran Paradiso (4,062m). “It is the only totally Italian 4,000,” Perenzoni noted. They could also climb and descend it on mountaineering skis. On the final day of their tour-des-Alps, Castagna and Perenzoni dual-summited the Schrekhorn and Lauteraarhorn in the Bernese Alps.

Castagna on Cresta di Peuterey

Castagna on Cresta di Peuterey. Photo: G. Perenzoni

AltaVia 4000: 82 Peaks, 80 Days

The two aspiring mountain guides (both are students of Trentino College’s Alpine Guide program), climbed the first 30 peaks, including the 4,000’ers on Mont Blanc, in three solid weeks before they took a day off. They needed the week-long hiatus to recharge, but the timing coincided with a bad weather window.

AltaVia 4000 monte rosa

Monte Rosa trekking. (Photo/G. Perenzoni)

The first 30 peaks on the AltaVia 4000 manifest, and their dates of ascent, were:

  • 04/05 – Gran Paradiso
  • 05/05 – Lagginhorn
  • 06/05 – Weissmies
  • 08/05 – Strahlhorn e Rimpfischhorn
  • 09/05 – Allalinhorn
  • 13/05 – Bishorn
  • 14/05 – Combin de Valsorey, Combin de Grafeneire, Combin de la Tsessette
  • 17/05 – Punta Giordani
  • 18/05 – Punta Gnifetti, Punta Parrot, Ludwigshöhe, Corno Nero e Piramide Vincent
  • 19/05 – Punta Zumstein e Punta Dufour
  • 20/05 – Nordend
  • 23/05 – Dent d’Herens
  • 25/05 – Dome de Neige des Ecrins
  • 27/05 – Barre des Ecrins
  • 29/05 – Aletschhorn
  • 30/05 – Jungfrau e Mönch
  • 31/05 – Gross Fiescherhorn, Hinter Fiescherhorn, Finsteraarhorn
  • 01/06 – Gross Grünhorn
  • 03/06 – Piz Bernina
castagna and perenzoni on monte rosa summit

Castagna and Perenzoni on the summit of Monte Rosa. Photo: G. Perenzoni

Pure alpinism

Once conditions at altitude cleared, the pair hopped in a car and drove to the base of the Weisshorn in the Swiss Alps. Perenzoni’s comments betray his excitement upon their return: “Never difficult but often delicate, the ascent of the East Ridge of the Weisshorn was a great day of PURE ALPINISM.”

From there, the team had mostly stellar weather and kept a strong, consistent pace through the next 42 days.

Castagna on lyskamm ridgeline

Castagna on Lyskamm. Photo: G. Perenzoni

The final 52 peaks of the team’s AltaVia 4000 were, in order:

  • 10/06 – Weisshorn
  • 12/06 – Dente del Gigante
  • 13/06 – Corne du Diable, Pointe Chaubert, Pointe Mediane, Pointe Carmen, L’Isolée, Mont Blanc du Tacul
  • 15/06 – Dent Blanche
  • 16/06 – Bergabelhorn
  • 17/06 – Zinalrothorn
  • 23/06 – Cresta Signal, Lyskamm Occidentale, Lyskamm Orientale, Castore, Polluce, Roccia Nera (Tentativo traversata dei Breithorn)
  • 24/06 – Gendarme (Gemello), Breithorn Orientale, Breithorn Centrale, Breithorn Occidentale
  • 26/06 – Dirruhorn, Hohberghorn, Stecknadelhorn, Nadelhorn, Lenzspitze
  • 27/06 – Alphubel
  • 28/06 – Taschhorn, Dom de Mischabel
  • 01/07 –  Les Droites
  • 02/07 – Aiguille du Jarden, Grandes Rocheuse, Aiguille Verte
  • 09/07 – Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey
  • 10/07 – Gran Pilier D’Angle, Monte Bianco di Courmayeur, Monte Bianco, Dome de Gouter, Aiguille de Bionassay
  • 11/07 – Cervino
  • 19/07 – Punta Baretti, Punta Brouillard, Picco Luigi Amedeo, Mount Maudit
  • 20/07 – Aiguille de Rochefort, Dome de Rochefort, Punta Margherita, Punta Elena, Punta Croz, Punta Whymper, Punta Walker
  • 22/07 – Schrekhorn, Lauterhaarhorn
castagna rappels during Altavia 4000

Castagna rappels down a summit. Photo: G. Perenzoni

In his final entry to the AltaVia 4000 blog, Perenzoni signs off with a symbolic and very Italian-traditional gesture: “[It] is done, all that remains is to get to the van for an aperitif…”

For the full retelling of their adventure, check out Perenzoni’s peak-by-peak recount, or follow the AltaVia 4000 project on Facebook and Instagram.

Castagna in a snowstorm on Lyskamm.

Castagna in a snowstorm on Lyskamm. Photo: G. Perenzoni

Traversing the Les Droites ridgeline

Les Droites ridgeline. Photo: G. Perenzoni

Castagna and Perezoni atop a 4000er.

Atop a 4,000’er. Photo: G. Perenzoni

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About the Author

Jilli Cluff

Jilli Cluff

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college.
After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing. In 2020, Jilli left her corporate position to pursue an outdoor-oriented life.
She now works as a contributor, an editor, and a gear tester for ExplorersWeb and various other outlets within the AllGear network.
She is based out of Austin, Texas where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.

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